Fantasy is about power, an interview with Lev Grossman. (Grokked from Terri Windling)
When you edit your story, it's not just a line edit. That was a lesson it took me too long to learn. It's something I still struggle with. (Grokked from Ferrett Steinmetz)
"I occasionally search for oddments related to bees and witchcraft, and a bit of my web-trawling over the weekend yielded an interesting spot from the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle, Cornwall. One of the items they have on display is a charm taken from a house in Dawlish in Devon, England. In physical form, it is a faded blue drawstring bag that contains the bodies of three dead bumblebees. The Witchcraft Museum calls it a charm for prosperity as the Dawlish bag was hung in the best room of the house, and they market a similar version in their gift shop, though this one uses ceramic coins shaped with a relief of a bee, and promise it will 'bring health, happiness, and sweet good fortune.'" Adds another pin to the map of places I want to visit if I ever get to England. Recently a coworker was talking about their remodeling of a very old house. They complained about their spouse dropping cigaret butts behind the drywall. I made a comment about them "leaving something behind for archeological discovery." And that's when they said, "We've found a lot of those… and one old, worn out shoe. Why would they leave a shoe behind a wall?" I had to lie and say I have no idea (I try not to alarm my coworkers with my store of arcane trivia, and it would have caused problems including the "How did you know that" one). (Grokked from Mrs Tadd)
Five secret criminal uses for the stuff they sell in gas stations. (Grokked from John)
"Oklahoma lawmakers are staring into a budget hole that's nearly $900 million deep — and they might not be able to cut their way out of it. Legislators are considering tax increases to help fund state government, and one idea is gaining traction: hiking taxes on gasoline and diesel." When shit gets real, conservatives will raise your taxes. It's just they'll do it in the most regressive way possible. Take Ohio (please) as an example. To pay for another income tax break (which goes mostly to the wealthy) they're talking about rising the sales tax (which hits the poor more severely). And gods forbid that we raise the oil and gas separation tax (what we charge companies for extracting oil and gas). I mean, that would hurt.
"Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto says tests indicate the city's water is safe, even though about 100,000 customers are still being advised to boil tap water before using it." Okay, I understand the surge to say things like that when you're an elected official, but just don't. The water is not "safe" until it clears the 3rd round of testing. You say, "We're concerned about what is going on, we're being over cautious, and want to be sure we aren't inadvertently endangering our water customers."
"After a weekend of chaos and demonstrations at US airports stirred by President Donald Trump’s executive order mandating tighter immigration rules, the greenback was crushed in early Monday trade." Huh, don't remember that on the news. (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)
"It takes 3.5% of a population engaged in sustained nonviolent resistance to topple brutal dictatorships." That means about 1.1 million of us are needed. What were the attendance numbers of the Woman's March? (2.6 million in case you were wondering)
"Businesses dislike many parts of the ACA… But large companies in particular… say a poorly thought-out replacement might turn out to be worse for them and their workers." Get ready for high-premium increases for lower coverage. It's all fun and games until a repeal becomes an actual possibility, and then people get concerned. "Edward Lenz, senior counsel for the ASA, said that before Donald Trump's election, 'we ignored lots of the talk of the Republicans about repeal. First of all there was no chance of that happening with the president [Obama] in the White House. And frankly no one here counted on President Trump's victory.'"
"Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums grew more slowly in 31 states and the District of Columbia between 2010 and 2013 -- after the passage of Obamacare -- compared with 2003 to 2010, according to the nonpartisan foundation the Commonwealth Fund… The slowdown in the growth in premiums is tied to the recent historic slowdown in health care costs… and could be attributed to a variety of factors. Those include the continuing effects of the recession and new Obamacare policies… However, wages have grown even more slowly since 2003, meaning workers and their families have yet to see the benefits of the changes in the health care market. Health insurance costs -- including employee premium costs and deductibles -- grew faster than income in every state, the report found." The deck is stacked against you girl, get back in bed. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)
"U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations… As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists." (Grokked form Ellen Kushner)
"Federal employees worried that President Donald Trump will gut their agencies are creating new email addresses, signing up for encrypted messaging apps and looking for other, protected ways to push back against the new administration’s agenda." Nonpartisan doesn't mean "we'll do whatever you want." The civil service is highly dedicated to making government work for the people. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)
NPR talking about how the Trump administration is leaking like a sieve. Mostly it's because there is no discipline, and everyone in power positions are attempting to backstab everyone else. Those in the civil service are attempting to send up flares to get help. And only a little bit are floating trial balloons. While they don't discuss it, my guess is some of it is also creating channels to feed disinformation to the press.
"'I would, yeah, absolutely, (include Hobby Lobby)' Spicer said. 'I think there is several businesses and several institutions, Catholic institutions and others, that have been mandated or apparently attempted to mandate certain things that they may or may not do or how they have to treat their employees.'" It also says in the Bible that slavery is not a bad thing, and that you can't hold debts past 7 years but you don't hear Christian groups talking about those articles of faith. Here's the thing, nobody is telling you how to live your life or conduct you personal business. If you pay for birth-control, that doesn't mean you need to use it. If you bake a cake, or sell flowers, or take photos for a wedding you are not being asked to bless the wedding. But the argument against providing those services are all based on that principle. I still think that in one of these cases regarding withholding services the lawyer for the plaintiffs should grill the defendants on their religious beliefs and see if they refuse services for other breaches (such as, do they ask if the couple had pre-marital sex, is there going to be drinking or dancing at the reception, both of which have prohibitions that are "deeply held convictions" of several main stream religions).
"Steve Inskeep talks with Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to President Trump, about the administration's recent statement about Israeli settlements and a raid in Yemen." Wherein Mr. Gorka says Iraqis have told him they 100% support Trump's travel ban. You know, the country that just curtailed American travel to their country (which may affect the war against ISIS) in a tit for tat response. Yeah. Apparently they love the ban… in emails they're highly supportive. So besides being an inveterate liar and former editor of Breitbart (I repeat myself), he is also charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor for carrying a firearm into a TSA checkpoint. Character, it matters. (that last link grokked from Kathryn Cramer)
"Ilan Berman, vice president of the conservative American Foreign Policy Council think tank, reported that the White House turned off its recording equipment during President Donald Trump’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin." If true, that's a bad sign. Note that I couldn't find other information for this, but in this NPR story they say the content of the call wasn't made available (that's the readout). (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)
And then Trump lifts the sanctions against the FSB (modern incarnation of the KGB and GRU). Only, reports say the Duma was praising the move at least an hour before the administration notified Congress. Nothing to see here citizen, move along. (Grokked from Lisa N. Morton)
Remember how Trump excoriated President Obama for daring to speak out again Israeli Settlements because he is such a good friend of Israel? "President Trump is encouraging Israel to hold off on new settlement construction. The surprising statement came after the Israeli prime minister vowed to build the first new settlement in the West Bank in many years." How do you like him now?
The Hidden Brain podcast discussing "In her new book, Strangers in Their Own Land, sociologist Arlie Hochschild tackles… (why) people might vote against their economic needs, they're actually voting to serve their emotional needs." The "deep story" ("They're the stories we tell ourselves to capture our hopes, pride, disappointments, fears, and anxieties")people hold about their place in the world and how it shapes our politics (in this case).
So how are people doing in the first two weeks of the four-year slog of a Trump presidency? Let's go to the polls. "52% say they'd rather Obama was President, to only 43% who are glad Trump is." (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)
You know that idea that the military would stand up to a despot if Trump went that way? Hold that thought. "A convoy of military vehicles flying a Trump flag last weekend in Kentucky belonged to a Naval Special Warfare (read: SEALs) unit, according to multiple reports." (Grokked from Dan)